I’ve taken a bit of an interest in Dad’s Army ever since I ran a short-lived roleplaying game in the 1990s in which the player characters were members of the Home Guard, dealing with mysterious happenings which turned out to be due to a burrow of Wombles rather than fifth-columnists – although one of the Wombles was blessed with the name Berlin…
This evening I went to the Byre Theatre to watch the St Andrews Play Club present their rendition of Dad’s Army. This was the opening night, and if you’re one of the local readers of this blog and fancy catching it, it’s on until Saturday. It has a running time of two hours, including the interval.
The St Andrews Play Club have put on a previous production of Dad’s Army in 2011, but I was unaware of it at the time. That consisted of a couple of TV episodes, “Mum’s Army” and “The Deadly Detachment”. The second episode there is the one you probably expect, with the U-boat crew as prisoners of war, and the oft-repeated line referring to Private Pike which I won’t spoil here just in case there’s anyone in the universe who hasn’t heard it.
So it sounds like this evening’s production was more ambitious, stretching to two TV episodes (“The Godiva Affair” and “The Deadly Attachment” again), an “episode” which was only ever performed on stage by the original cast (“The Floral Dance”) and an original piece to close by one of the society members, called “All Together Now”.
The main characters were all recognisable, despite the rather odd experience of watching an unmistakably Scottish Sergeant Wilson. They were probably spoilt for choice for people to play Fraser! Captain Mainwaring and Lance Corporal Jones are probably the most demanding roles to play, as they involve not just acting but a lot of comic timing, and I’m pleased to say they carried it off admirably. Alan Tricker as Captain Mainwaring wasn’t a new Arthur Lowe, but that would be a tall order (for a short man); he didn’t have quite the level of frustrated self-importance of the original but nevertheless did a good job in the role. David Lee as Lance Corporal Jones did a great job – it was almost like watching Clive Dunn in action.
There’s a warm comfort to be had from watching something so familiar yet slightly new. The TV episodes were very familiar, of course – so much so that I was completely unfazed when rather endearingly in a moment of meta-character “”Pike” fluffed the punch line to “The Godiva Affair”, naming Mrs Fox instead of Mrs Mainwaring. For anyone previously unfamiliar with the story, I think the business probably sold what was actually meant to have been said. “The Deadly Detachment” strayed somewhat from the original in having an all-female U-boat crew, but that was cool (and played completely straight). Apart from that line, it’s not actually a favourite of mine, but I enjoyed seeing it on stage.
The two sections I was unfamiliar with both had a musical bent. “The Floral Dance” saw the platoon and other residents of Walmington-on-Sea, engaged in choir practice before an event in aid of wounded soldiers, and building up to a performance of the song named. Despite having a slightly different pedigree, it felt right. If you’re not able to see it in St. Andrews, and want an idea of what it was like, YouTube comes to the rescue – here’s audio of the original cast performing it on stage:
The final section, “All Together Now”, was a celebration of the end of the war (probably VE-day, but that wasn’t quite clear and I didn’t recognise the clip of Churchill on the radio announcement). Featuring a selection of songs culminating in White Cliffs of Dover and a tableau in which the cast were starkly lit and sprinkled with poppies. I didn’t feel it quite gelled as the scripts by Jimmy Perry and David Croft did, but again that’s a tall order, and apparently it was written at quite short notice, so good on the script writer all the same. It was more sentimental than amusing, but that’s OK – one of the strengths of Dad’s Army was that it would occasionally make it clear that, for all their ridiculousness, the characters were utterly sincere and serious about being prepared to lay down their lives to make the smallest of differences.
Worth checking out, if you can.
A thousand years have passed since the events of Tales From the Kingdom of Fife, when Zargothrax, Dark Sorcerer of Auchtermuchty, invaded Dundee with an army of undead unicorns before eventually being imprisoned in a frozen pool of liquid ice, encasing his immortal body in a cage of eternal frost. (“Seems legit”, as the top comment under the relevant YouTube video says.)
Now, in the far distant future year of 1992, Zargothrax is released from his prison of frost by a cult of unholy chaos wizards, and Dundee and the Galactic Empire of Fife must be defended from their evil domination by King Angus McFife XIII (descendant of the original Crown Prince Angus McFife) and the eagle-riding Knights of Crail.
Like the previous album, it romps joyously through a Fife-flavoured galaxy of cheese. It’s a worthy successor, but with more laser-powered hammers, chambers of cryogenetical fire, robots, cosmic rage (of Astral Dwarves from Aberdeen), and eagle-riding Space Knights of Crail.
Stylistically, it’s still HEROIC FANTASY POWER METAL (of course), but as befits a more futuristic epic, there’s a greater role for synthesisers than was previously the case.
The previous tale concluded in the ten-minute Epic Rage of Furious Thunder. This album doesn’t pull its punches either, with another 10 minute epic finale – Apocalypse 1992. I can’t express how accurately this track captures the far-off technological future of 1992 – you’ll just have to listen to it and find out for yourself.
As for me – I’m also waiting, for the physical album to arrive, so that I can find out what the disc of bonus tracks has to offer…
Well, I already knew I was an extremist, as Nick Clegg was kind enough to inform me of it a couple of years ago.
What I hadn’t realised was that I’m practically one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse. According to George Robertson – sorry, Baron Robertson of Port Ellen – Scottish independence would be “cataclysmic in geo-political terms”. Gosh, nice to know we count for so much.
There’s a lot of inflated language going round about the independence campaign and it’s daft. Really, if a measly 8.4% of the UK’s population peacefully vote to govern themselves, that’s going to cause the fall of Western civilisation is it? Particularly when what’s being proposed actually sounds a bit like a loose confederation with the rest of the UK? There’s a lot of good will there, if folk are prepared to stop caricaturing independence for a small country as a global catastrophe, and comparing the Unionist cause to that of Lincoln in the American Civil War.
George Robertson’s a coof – if you don’t believe me, watch him comprehensively lose this debate in Dundee last year, turning a 38% margin in his favour into a 13% lead against him. And remember he was involved in determining the Scottish Parliament’s electoral system that was going to help devolution “kill Nationalism stone dead”.
Let’s take his words as seriously as they deserve, at this, the dawn of the Apocalypse. If the world says it’s time to go, tell me, will you freak out? No; with fires in New York, locusts in Detroit, and zombies in Atlanta, you’ve gotta laugh at the zombie in the front yard:
And I really, really want to thank you for reading to the end. ;-)
I don’t know whether you’ve posted anything recently? I’m not a very frequent poster of things but it was my sister’s birthday recently and that’s definitely a posting time.
My sister’s an active outdoors person – in fact she works as an outdoor instructor, after previous employment as a reindeer herder – so outdoorsy stuff is good, particularly small things that are easily transported and don’t take up much space. So I found a couple of things that I thought would suit her, wrapped them up and headed off to the Post Office.
I was unaware that Post Office policy has changed regarding accepting parcels over the counter. Apparently you now have to declare the contents, even for domestic post. A friend theorises that this is because even domestic parcels are often travelling by air nowadays; whatever the reasons, I was a bit taken aback (and annoyed – whose business is it really?) and I obviously showed it when the lady at the counter asked me what was in my parcel. She helpfully explained.
It didn’t help really. I looked at the small padded envelope I’d handed over.
I was at first puzzled, then interested, when Spain’s entry appeared. Introduced by Graham Norton as ESDM, they and their sound were kind of familiar, and they started with the sound of Asturian bagpipes. Then the lead singer looked familiar, although I didn’t know her from Oxford where apparently she lived for a time. It didn’t take long for the penny to drop – ESDM were El Sueño de Morfeo, a group I recommended a couple of years ago. Their song, Contigo hasta el final, didn’t grab me as immediately as some of their other work, but seemed OK. They came 25th out of 26, just ahead of Ireland whose entry also seemed a bit better than the voting reflected.
In other news, the entry from Belarus arrived in a Sontaran spaceship:
|A Sontaran emerging from his spaceship||The Belarus entry in Eurovision 2013|
Find out more about Captain Biplane, intrepid airman from a parallel universe, here, or just jump straight into the first episode of Kidnappers from Mercury. Episode 2 is to come later, followed by Green Pirates of Jupiter! The best way to get notified of future instalments is probably this RSS feed.
When the census takes place on 27th March, for the first time there are to be questions in the Scottish form about the Scots language – can you understand, speak, read or write it? – and to help folk answer the questions there’s a web site with samples to read and listen to.
Since Scots is often regarded as a dialect of English1, some help’s a good idea; and if you’re not one of those required to answer the questions, then it may still be interesting to listen to some voices that you don’t usually hear.
1 There’s certainly a close relationship between Scots and English, and it’s understandable that there would be disagreements about whether they’re far enough apart on the spectrum to be regarded as separate languages. For an article about why Scots can be considered a language rather than a dialect, read here.( Extras... )
Heroic journalism by the bravely desk-bound Deputy Editor of the Telegraph has exposed a fiendish Oriental plot to violate the blessed sanctity of the United Kingdom. Deadly guided pandas are to be dispatched to the rebel base of Corstorphine on the planet Edinburgh, from where the evil duly-elected leader of the Scotch peasant army, Alex Salmond, will be able to deploy them at will on a wicked charm offensive. It’s believed that the weapons of cuddly disruption could be deployed against English tourists within 45 seconds. Oi, China! It’s a black and white issue; don’t panda to these separatists!
Also uncovered in the same story, it appears you can buy Wales cheap, if you fancy it; Benedict Brogan doesn’t.
What an idiot.
Apparently there’s not just one sort of sport infesting the airwaves at the moment, but two. There’s some sort of tennis bash going on at Wimbledon, when it can get a mention past the coverage of the football.
Of course both are equally tedious unless you’re actually taking part, but it seems that one particular tennis match has been quite spectacularly and world-beatingly long-drawn-out and boring. Let’s go over to our commentator at the Guardian for more details, and a sports commentary that’s actually worth reading for once (starts to get interesting at 4:05 p.m.).